The plan has always worked in the past. No reason to think it wouldn’t work again.
Jose Leclerc has been lights out as a closer. So far, this season, he’d thrown 4.1 scoreless innings. He had converted both save attempts (even earning a win in between), and his last fourteen save attempts spilling into last year. He hadn’t allowed a run in his last 25.1 innings.
No reason to think he wouldn’t come in last night and add to those remarkable lights-out numbers.
Leclerc’s dagger pitch is his slider. When the first two sliders he threw to the first batter he faced went wide, eyebrows raised a bit. He hadn’t pitched in five days, maybe he wasn’t as sharp as usual.
The first batter singled. Okay, Leclerc isn’t a machine. Opponents do get on base off him. They just don’t score.
Until the next hitter doubled, driving in the first run, making it 4-3.
Then two batters later, the pinch hitter deposited one of those famous sliders over the wall in right field, and it was over.
A 5-4 loss.
Jose Leclerc was immediately certified as human.
It was a game the Rangers should have won. One they usually win. It’s the plan.
Step One: Mike Minor would start. He would be good, as per usual, this time going seven innings—unheard of for this rotation—giving up just five hits and two runs.
Step Two: The Rangers bullpen would hold the lead. That happened.
Step Three: Jose Leclerc would close it out. That didn’t happen.
Chris Woodward made all the right moves. It took him eleven games to realize sometimes that’s not enough, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it.
Lance Lynn (0-1, 6.39) vs. Robbie Ray (0-1, 4.35)
Game time: 8:40